Tag Archives: alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's Wandering: How to Maintain Safety at Home

Alzheimer’s wandering is not uncommon in the early and middle stages of the disease.

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, families typically have an abundance of questions about care, disease management and changes in behavior that can be expected. One of the most concerning behaviors that families may face is the tendency to wander. While not uncommon, Alzheimer’s wandering often occurs in the early to middle stages of the disease and can be challenging for family caregivers and place the individual with dementia in unsafe situations. While anyone with dementia is at risk to wander, often the behavior is brought about by:

  • Basic needs. Your loved one is hungry, thirsty or needs to use the bathroom.
  • Following past routines. He or she may be trying to go to work, to school or to the store.
  • Searching. Your loved one may be searching for something or someone.
  • Stress or fear. Wandering is often brought about as a reaction to stress, fear or nervousness.

To help prevent wandering, the Florida in-home care experts at American, Advocate, Douglas and Whitsyms In-Home Care recommend implementing a daily, structured routine, including regular meals, exercise, plenty of hydration and bathroom breaks. It’s also a helpful idea to keep a diary and note the time of day or any potential triggers that seem to proceed wandering. If a loved one feels disoriented or abandoned, provide calm reassurance that he or she is safe.
Other ways to ensure the safety of a loved one who may wander include:

  • Camouflage doors. Paint or wallpaper doors to match the surrounding walls, hang curtains, or conceal exits with folding barriers. Hang a “NO EXIT” or “DO NOT ENTER” sign on doors.
  • Install a security system or alarms on doors. A whole-house security system can be set up to chime when doors or windows are opened. Childproof covers on doorknobs and bells hung on doors can also help alert family caregivers to wandering.
  • Keep car keys out of sight. If the senior with dementia is no longer driving, be sure to keep car keys hidden and in a secure location.
  • Provide supervision. Having someone at home with the senior loved one is ideal. The professional care providers we refer are highly trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care and help provide families with peace of mind through compassionate care and enhanced safety.

Another important step for families to take is to have an emergency plan in place should their loved one wander.

  • Have a recent photo of your loved one on hand.
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers.
  • Alert neighbors and ask them to inform you if they see your loved one out alone.
  • Enroll your loved one a wandering response program.
  • Make a list of places the senior with dementia might go, including a former house, workplace or place of worship.
  • Place labels in the senior’s clothes, have him or her carry identification or wear a GPS device.

We know that Alzheimer’s and dementia impact each individual differently. To help meet the needs of local families, our referred care providers are experienced and trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care and work to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of individuals in their care and reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s wandering. Whether implementing a structured, daily routine, engaging a loved one in reminiscing activities, helping prepare nutritious meals, assisting with personal care needs or a variety of other tasks, our referred care providers are available for a few hours each week, up to and including 24/7 live-in care.

To discover more about the ways our family of brands can help provide safety for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, select the location nearest you:

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Know the Facts About Seniors and Alzheimer’s Disease

Impacting over 5 million people in the U.S. alone, Alzheimer’s disease touches almost all of us in some way. Arm yourself with the facts you need about the disease in order to provide the best care for someone you love.

Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is devastating for both the senior diagnosed and his or her loved ones, and with millions of Americans given that diagnosis, it’s a disease that impacts so many of us. One of the most important steps we can all take is to learn as much as possible about Alzheimer’s, and since September is designated as World Alzheimer’s Month, it’s an ideal time for the Florida home care experts trusted by local families since 1992 – American, Advocate, Douglas and Whitsyms In-Home Care -- to share some facts to help you better assist a loved one with the disease.

What is Alzheimer’s disease? Alzheimer’s is a progressive form of dementia that impacts the areas of the brain responsible for memory, thinking, and language, making it increasingly difficult for a person with the disease to manage the daily activities of living. While the cause is still not fully understood, scientists believe it’s the result of a number of factors that could include age, family history, diet, environment, education, and more.

What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s? One of the first signs is usually memory loss that initially displays through repeating statements or questions, getting lost, forgetting the names of common objects, etc. Other symptoms include difficulty with managing finances, completing once-familiar tasks, losing objects, decreased judgment, and mood or behavioral changes.

What should I do if I suspect Alzheimer’s in a loved one? It’s important to schedule an appointment with the senior’s doctor as soon as symptoms begin to become evident, as early diagnosis is crucial to starting treatment. There are also other conditions that mimic Alzheimer’s, which the doctor will want to check for as well.

What happens next? If the doctor confirms a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, treatment will be recommended to slow or delay the progression of the disease. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are ways to help better manage the symptoms and retain mental functioning for as long as possible.

It’s important for family caregivers of a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to receive ongoing support and to take breaks as needed. Providing dementia care can take a toll on one’s health – both physically and emotionally. Utilizing respite care can help family caregivers take time away from caregiving responsibilities in order to prevent burnout, depression, and other serious health risks.

As the Florida home care experts, our referred care providers are always on hand to help those with Alzheimer’s and the families who love them. Through trusted, compassionate, and creative in-home care that eases some of the more challenging aspects of the disease, such as wandering, sundowning, agitation, aggression, and more, we provide the respite care family caregivers need to take much-needed breaks from care.

Discover more about our family of brands and how we can help. Simply select the location nearest you from these options:

Reach out to us today to learn more about how our referred care providers can help you and a loved one with Alzheimer’s to live the best possible quality of life.

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

Five Lifestyle Factors That Can Reduce Your Risk for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's Disease

Roughly 6 million people of all ages in the United States are currently living with Alzheimer’s - this includes mostly people over the age of 65 but also 200,000 people under the age of 65 with an early onset version of the disease. One in every ten people over the age of 65 develops Alzheimer’s, which is a very large percentage. So what can you do to decrease your, or a loved one’s, risk for developing Alzheimer’s?

New research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019 suggests there are 5 critical factors that you can change about your lifestyle that will significantly decrease your risk for developing the disease. This research is incredibly important because it shows that risk factors for the disease can be modified and that you can truly make a difference with lifestyle changes, regardless of genetics or predisposition for the disease. See what 5 lifestyle factors you can change below.

1. Diet

One of the biggest factors that affects our health is what we eat. People have known for ages that what we put in our body impacts our health, our chance of disease, and our longevity - and now, that it can decrease our risk for the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia. So what changes can you make in your diet? Scientists recommend a combination of a DASH and Mediterranean diet. The DASH diet is prescribed by doctors to prevent and treat high blood pressure and blood cholesterol. The foods in a DASH diet are low in sodium and high in other nutrients that lower blood pressure like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The DASH diet includes lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry and legumes, and encourages a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week. You can learn more about the DASH diet and its recommendations here - (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456).
The Mediterranean diet is more of a long-term lifestyle diet, while the DASH diet is for losing weight or changing blood pressure levels in a short amount of time. The Mediterranean diet, as the name suggests, is based off of a typical diet found in Mediterranean countries. This diet consists of large amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, medium amounts of fish, dairy and healthy fats, and small amounts of meat and sweets. The important fact about the Mediterranean diet is that it is plant based instead of meat based. Meals are built around vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole-grains with sides of dairy, seafood, poultry and eggs. Red meat is only eaten on occasion. You can learn more about the Mediterranean diet and its recommendations here - (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801).

2. Exercise

Regular exercise is important to stay physically and mentally fit. People who are active and fit are less likely to have a decrease in mental function and less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Exercising is important because it can:
• Sharpen reasoning skills in healthy individuals
• Improve memory and judgment skills in healthy individuals
• Delay the onset of Alzheimer’s for people at risk or with a genetic predisposition
• Slow the progress of the disease in people who already have Alzheimer’s

So how much exercise is enough to make an impact? The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that “individuals aged 65 and above engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week, or 75 weekly minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise.” Examples of aerobic exercise are brisk walking, running, swimming, tennis, cycling (inside or outside), dancing, taking a spin class, using the elliptical machine, etc. Many of these, like swimming, are low impact and good for people who are already over the age of 50 or who have had previous injuries.

3. Smoking

Alzheimer’s specifically is known to be linked with problems of the vascular system, i.e. your heart and bloodstream. Smoking increases your chance of vascular problems, strokes and mini bleeds in the brain - all of which are also risk factors for dementia. Chemicals in cigarettes can also cause inflammation and oxidative stress, which both increase your chance of developing Alzheimer’s, as well as a plethora of other diseases. Some research says that 14% of dementia cases can be attributed to smoking. But don’t worry, stopping at any point in your life will still have an impact on your Alzheimer’s risk. It’s never too late to adopt healthier lifestyle practices.

4. Drinking

Don’t worry - we’re not about to tell you to stop drinking altogether. Thankfully, drinking in moderation has no significant impact on your risk for developing Alzheimer’s. However heavy drinking and binge drinking will lead to brain damage over time, reducing the amount of your brain’s white matter - the material that provides synapse connections between different sections of your brain. It can also lead to a lack of vitamin B1, eventually affecting short term memory.

So what is moderate alcohol consumption? The NCS says that 1-14 units of alcohol per week for women and 1-21 units a week for men is considered light to moderate.
• A typical glass (175mL) of (12%) wine = 2 units
• A pint of lower (3.6%) alcohol beer or cider = 2 units
• A pint of higher (5.2%) alcohol beer or cider = 3 units
• A single shot (25mL) of spirits such as whisky, gin or vodka (40%) = 1 unit
5. Cognitive Activities

Increased cognitive activity in early life is known to be associated with decreased cognitive decline and a decreased risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia. The new research presented at the Alzheimer’s Conference shows that increasing your cognitive activity at any point in your life can decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s. So what can you do to increase your cognitive activity? Anything that keeps your brain active like crossword puzzles, sudoku, reading books, puzzles, playing card games, etc. “Your brain is like any other muscle in your body — the more you strengthen it, the more resistant it will be to environmental and physical stress,” Tousi explains.
A new study by Ko et. al published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience Journal also shows that increased childhood cognitive activities, like taking music lessons or learning a new language, could greatly decrease the risk of developing both Alzheimer’s and dementia. Encouraging your kids to stimulate their brains will help them further down the road. But it’s also important to know that any cognitive activity increase at any age will help reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s. So it’s never too late to pick up a new brain stimulating activity.

So what does this all mean for me?

So what does this actually mean for you? How much will changing these factors actually impact your risk of developing Alzheimer’s? Research shows that people who changed at least 4 of these habits had a 60% decrease in risk, and even people who only changed 2-3 of these habits still had a 37% decrease in risk. While most people would probably assume that not smoking or drinking would have a positive impact on your body, this research emphasizes the magnitude of these small changes. Even people with an increased genetic risk can still decrease the chance of developing the disease if they change these 5 lifestyle factors.

“What we are starting to see, across the board, whether you inherited a genetic predisposition to dementia or live in a place that increases your risk, is that you may be able to overcome some of this with lifestyle,” Carrillo says. “Even more exciting, even a little bit counts.

If you are looking for a provider for live-in care in Florida with experience caring for individuals with Alzheimer's, American In-Home Care and our family of caring companies, Whitsyms In-Home Care, Advocate In-Home Care and Douglas In-Home Care can help. We refer qualified and compassionate care providers that are matched directly with your loved one's personality and needs. We can refer care providers that specialize in Alzheimer's and dementia care, and who have training and continuing education in this area to ensure they provide the highest quality of care to your loved one, and that you and your loved one are in the best hands.

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Signs of Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease

A person suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease likely does not look like the average Alzheimer's patient. The average Alzheimer's sufferer in America is a woman in her 70s, whose disease has a relatively slow onset and symptoms that reflect memory loss.

However, early-onset Alzheimer's is different, affecting the middle-aged populace with symptoms that don't necessarily have anything to do with memory loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, 200,000 Americans suffer from it, so how can you tell if you are among them?

Stealing or Breaking the Law

Behavioral changes in older adults should always be cause for concern. If behavioral patterns have changed drastically, and a previously well-behaved adult starts behaving dangerously or erratically, it could be a sign of  Frontotemporal Dementia, the most common brain-damaging disease that strikes people under age 60, affecting their ability to make decisions and determine right from wrong.

Falling Often

If you or a loved one are falling frequently, tell your doctor as it could be a sign of a cognitive problem. In a recent study of 125 people sampled, those that fell often had correlating brain scans for early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Forgetting What Objects Are For

There's a difference between not remembering where you put your keys and not remembering what a key is used for. If you're having problems remembering the function of objects or where things go, it is time to talk to a doctor.

Eating Inappropriate Things

Some patients of early-onset Alzheimer's have been reported to eat inanimate objects, such as paper or other inedible things, prior to their diagnosis. Also, people diagnosed with Alzheimer's generally consume more calories and are hungrier than non-sufferers, and still they tend to lose weight. Both of these could be related to decreased brain function; the brain receives hunger signals and isn't sure how to process them.

Not Able to Recognize Sarcasm

Sarcasm can sometimes be hard to pick up on, but if you find yourself constantly missing out on humor and sarcasm that others are picking up on, this could be a warning sign of brain atrophy. In diseases such as early-onset Alzheimer's and Frontotemporal Dementia, the brain’s posterior hippocampus is affected, which is where short-term memory is stored, and where one would sort out such things as sarcasm.

Being Depressed

A change in mental health later in life is another symptom of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. If you have never suffered from clinical depression in your young adult life, but develop depression later in life, this could be an alerting factor. This doesn't mean that every person diagnosed with depression later in life will suffer from Alzheimer's, but it does make someone three times more likely to have an Alzheimer's-related disease. Get treatment for depression as soon as possible because it is speculated that the hormones released during depression can actually damage parts of the brain.

Blankly Staring

With early-onset Alzheimer's, the function of the brain is compromised, meaning your ability to recall facts, memories and information is compromised, the brain becoming all around unfocused. So staring in a detached way might be an early sign of a compromised brain.

These symptoms could signal early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, but they might also be the signs of other underlying conditions. A trained neurologist can easily diagnose Alzheimer’s or other dementias, so talk to your doctor if you have worrying signs so that you can begin treatment. If diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, having a care provider in your home could help you feel safe and comfortable. American In-Home Care always refers qualified, credentialed, insured and screened care providers that can help with a variety of services including Alzheimer's and Dementia Care. Contact us today at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free in-home assessment.


Adapted From: Andrea Atkins, "7 Surprising Early Signs of Alzheimer's Disease." Next Avenue. Oct. 2015. 


Safety Tips For Traveling With Alzheimer's Disease

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, it often feels like that is the end of life as you know it. But being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's  doesn't mean that you have to give up traveling, nor does it mean your loved one can no longer enjoy getting out of the house. Traveling with Alzheimer's disease is still possible in the early stages of the disease, it just requires advanced planning to ensure everyone involved is safe and happy.

Safety is always the number one consideration when planning a trip with a loved one who has Alzheimer's. Follow the steps below to help plan an Alzheimer's-safe vacation so that you can both relax and enjoy the trip.

1. Have a plan in place for wandering.

A familiar routine and environment are comforting to someone suffering from Alzheimer's, and because traveling disrupts this, it is more likely that anxiety and wandering could happen. That is why it is crucial to never leave your loved one alone, be prepared, and have a plan in place.

Contact your local Alzheimer's Association before your trip and register with their Safe Return Program or  Comfort Zone monitoring system, being sure to complete the process entirely before you leave. If a situation arises while you are there, have a plan in place and don't hesitate to contact the local authorities.

3. Keep comfort in mind when traveling.

Have comfort items such as pillows, snacks and water readily available when you travel. This includes any kind of transportation including bus, train, car or airplane. If you decide to fly, schedule flights early in the day, and choose to fly non-stop if you can. Put medications in your carry-on bag, along with any other necessities you might need in case your flight is delayed. And  consider bringing a puzzle book or something similar for your loved one to hold on to.

3. During your trip, maintain a daily routine as much as possible.

Even in a new environment, having a regular routine will lessen the confusion for your loved one. Plan on waking up at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time in the evenings. Also eat meals at the same time during the day. Create a plan for your days, organizing the days with structured and pleasant activities that you both can enjoy. Plan to see places and incorporate activities you know they enjoy, and make sure to allow for flexibility within your daily routine for spontaneous activities.

4. Consider respite care while you travel.

If you feel that traveling with your loved one would be too difficult or too disruptive to them, consider hiring a temporary respite care provider to come to their home. This will allow you the chance to take a break from your caregiving responsibilities, which can be crucial for your own health and happiness, and it will give your loved one a chance to  experience quality care and meaningful activities, making their "staycation" fun and safe as well.

American In-Home Care refers care providers that can assist with Respite Care and additional Alzheimer's Care services, ensuring your loved one will be in the best hands, and will always be safe and happy. We offer free, no obligation consultations and assessments. Contact us today!






Memory Loss With Age: Helpful Tips For Coping

Forgetfulness and memory lapses are common among older adults, and can be frustrating and embarrassing. As we grow older, we experience changes that can cause glitches in the brain functions that we have always taken for granted. Because it takes longer to learn and recall information as we age, we’re not as quick as we used to be, which can lead to feelings of frustration when we forget everyday things.

Memory loss with age happens because the region of the brain responsible for memories starts to deteriorate, and hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells decline. Older adults are also less efficient at absorbing brain-enhancing nutrients, which makes some memory loss a natural part of aging.

For this reason, most people experience occasional lapses in memory that are a normal part of the aging process and not necessarily a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of dementia. However, when memory loss with age becomes so severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, then it is time to see a doctor and get evaluated.

When a loved one has been evaluated and is diagnosed with severe memory loss such as Alzheimer's disease, it can be challenging for the person diagnosed as well as their caregivers. Even though there are no medical treatments for curing severe memory impairments, changing the way things are done at home can help.

1. Use Lots of Hints and Reminders

Talk frequently about things that are coming up and important events that need to be remembered. Incorporate these reminders naturally into conversation so that it doesn't make the person feel foolish, or point out the fact that they can't remember on their own. Also use hints like "let's make sandwiches for lunchtime," which can help remind them what time of day it is and what meal is coming next. Words with context such as "lunch," "dinner," or "bath time," can be more useful than using numeric values such as "3 o'clock."

2. Use Calendars and Clocks

Make sure there are clocks placed throughout the house, and keep blinds and curtains open during the day so that it is easier to keep track of the time of day. Before getting in bed,  visibly cross off the day on the calendar so that the new day is apparent in the morning.

3. Keep Old Photographs and Mementos Around

While these will not necessarily jog any present memories, they are important to have around because they can be comforting and provide reminders of family and friends. People with severe memory loss are often better able to recall events in the distant past, so having heirlooms and pictures around the house can help to provide a means to recall these comforting memories.

4. Keep Choices Limited

Remove the need for extra choices to be made which can confuse and upset the individual. For example, only leave a few shirts and two pairs of shoes in the closet, keeping the other items in a separate, locked closet. And when asking for the individual's preference, limit choices and distractions by asking "do you want" questions, such as "do you want to wear the black shoes?"

5. Use Night Lights Around the House

People with severe memory loss can easily become disoriented at night, so keeping night lights around helps them know where they are if they wake up in the middle of the night and need to use the bathroom. Also, keeping the house illuminated helps prevent injury due to falls or bumping in to objects.

6. Provide for Other Sensory Changes

Changes in other sensory organs comes along with severe memory loss, meaning taste, hearing and sight might also be compromised which can be confusing and even lead to depression. Be aware of this as a caregiver and be sure the individual gets the proper glasses or hearing aids if necessary, and try cooking with more spicy or flavorful foods to compensate for deteriorating taste buds.

7. Show Not Tell

Because of the way the brain works, someone with a progressive memory disorder such as Alzheimer's would have a poor declarative memory (related to recalling facts), but still have a strong, healthy procedural memory (related to recalling how to do things). Thus, someone with Alzheimer's may be able to learn new skills or remember how to do tasks by practicing in small steps how something is done. It may take several weeks of patient practicing, but the sense of accomplishment and independence after learning the task is worth the effort.

8. Keep a Set Routine

People with severe memory loss do not function as well when there are changes and surprises in their day, so activities should be done at the same time and in the same way every day as much as possible. For example dressing before breakfast, watering the plants before lunch, and eating meals and exercising at the same time every day. If there needs to be a change, such as a vacation or a visit to the doctor, tell the person all the information beforehand in a positive, friendly way.

If you are worried that you or your loved one's memory loss might be getting serious, you can start by taking a quiz to test the severity of memory loss, but you should always see a doctor to confirm the results and start seeking treatment. People who are diagnosed with severe memory loss such as Alzheimer's or dementia often require constant and daily care to help provide for their needs, so do not feel overwhelmed or guilty if you cannot handle the care on your own - professional in-home care services can help your loved one remain safe, happy and under control in the comfort of their own home.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer compassionate, qualified, care providers that specialize in a variety of services, including Alzheimer's and Dementia Care. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.